Cities with Little Crime: The Case of Switzerland

Cities with Little Crime: The Case of Switzerland

Cities with Little Crime: The Case of Switzerland

Cities with Little Crime: The Case of Switzerland

Synopsis

In this comparative study, Professor Clinard challenges the often noted correlation between high rates of crime and high levels of urbanization and industrialization by examining the case of Switzerland. He performs a series of tests designed to determine whether Swiss crime rates are indeed remarkably low. His research is based on surveys of crime victimization in Zurich and of Swiss attitudes toward crime, as well as statements about crime by government officials, newspaper reports on crime, and trends in theft insurance rates. Professor Clinard analyzes the characteristics of Swiss society that seem to be responsible for the low incidence of crime. Particularly important, he suggests, are the citizen's sense of responsibility in crime control, the decentralization of government, the broad integration of youths and adults, and the nature of the Swiss criminal justice system. His policy recommendations are valuable for all nations, both developed and developing, that are concerned with crime control.

Excerpt

This study attempts to analyze the unique crime situation in Switzerland and to compare it with that of other European countries and the United States. It might be presumed that Switzerland, as one of the world's most highly developed, affluent, industrialized, and urbanized countries, like the United States, Sweden, and the Federal German Republic, would also have a high and a rapidly increasing rate of crime. in the light of this study, however, it appears that Switzerland represents an important exception. For those countries that are faced with high and continually rising rates of crime, the findings have practical, as well as theoretical implications.

In carrying out this pioneer study of Swiss crime, I have tried to make a contribution to comparative criminology and, in particular, to methodology. in order to determine whether crime constitutes a problem to the Swiss, I have used a number of unusual research methods and sources in addition to official crime data. I have, for example, studied parliamentary debates, examined press coverage of crime news, carried out a crime victimization survey in Zürich, and considered theft insurance rates and trends. the crime victimization survey in Zürich is among the first to be conducted outside the United States. Throughout, I have tried to make the study comparative in nature, with frequent use of material from Sweden, the United States, and the Federal German Republic. in the end I have tried to offer some explanations or hypotheses for the relatively minor nature of crime in Switzerland, particularly as compared to Sweden. in addition, I have discussed the practical implications of the study for the United States and similar countries. I hope that these hypotheses will stimulate further studies of this type in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Comparative sociology and criminology have long been major interests of mine. I believe, like Durkheim, that we must test findings derived in one type of society on both similar and dissimilar societies. Some years ago I began my comparative research with a study of the relation . . .

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